Connect with us

news

Bathiudeens’ lawyer claims conspiracy to undermine national level Muslim politicians

Published

on

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney-at-law Rushdhie Habeeb alleges that the recent arrest of All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen, MP, in connection with the ongoing police investigations, is part of a despicable conspiracy to undermine Muslim politicians at the national level.

Habeeb said so yesterday (28) in his capacity as the lawyer for Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Bathiudeen when The Island sought clarification as regards the Opposition political parties’ response to the latest development.

Responding to another query, Habeeb emphasised that the government, under tremendous pressure from various parties, particularly the Catholic Church over the delay in bringing investigations to a successful conclusion, was pursing a political agenda.

The lawyer said that he represented the interests of MP Bathiudeen, his brother, Riyajj, and their families, as well as the ACMC.

Pointing out that Bathiudeen had been in the Cabinet of the then Presidents, Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019), Habeeb said that several MPs, including SJB leader Sajith Premadasa, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Mujibur Rahman, Mano Ganesan, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando, both in and outside Parliament, had questioned the government strategy.

Habeeb said that on his behalf, a junior lawyer sought a copy of the Detention Order obtained by the CID in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) from the Director, Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The DOs allow the CID to detain the Bathiudeen brothers for 90 days. Director, Media, Police headquarters, SSP Nihal Thalduwa yesterday confirmed the issuance of DOs.

In a statement issued soon after the police arrested the Bathiudeen brothers, in the early hours of Saturday (24), Habeeb said that the SJB constituent, the ACMC group in Parliament, comprised four lawmakers, including Rishad. In addition to them, there were 169 ACMC members in Local Government authorities, Habeeb said, underscoring the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage didn’t receive any incriminatory evidence in respect of the former Minister.

 Appreciating the public stand taken by Opposition lawmakers, Habeeb called for, what he called a greater consensus among those genuinely opposed to the government strategy.

Weeks after the Easter Sunday carnage, all nine Muslim politicians, including Bathiudeen, relinquished their ministerial portfolios in the wake of the then UNP National List lawmaker Ven. Atureliye Rathana undertaking a fast demanding the removal of Rishad Bathiudeen and two Governors-Azath Sally (Western Province) and M.L.A.M. Hisbullah (Eastern Province). In late July, Bathiudeen and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem were among those who re-accepted ministerial portfolios, claiming investigations cleared them.

 Asked whether the UNP backed the ACMC led campaign against its leader’s arrest, UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena yesterday said that the arrest of lawmakers in the absence of proper charges couldn’t be condoned under any circumstances. However, the UNP wouldn’t want to take a stand hastily as regards MP Bathiudeen’s arrest. “We’ll let the public know our stand once the party studied the case.”

 At the time Bathiudeen was accused of close links with the now proscribed National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ), blamed for the Easter Sunday carnage, his party functioned as a constituent of the UNP-led coalition. In early 2020, Bathiudeen switched his allegiance to the SJB. Habeeb alleged that the government targeted MP Bathiudeen because he backed Sajith Premadasa at the 2019 presidential election.

Habeeb strongly denied much publicised police headquarters accusations that the Bathiudeen brothers aided and abetted those responsible for the Easter carnage. The latest arrests were made close on the heels of the SJB alleging that those in power now, are suppressing the Easter Sunday investigations. The lawyer said that the government was yet to respond to specific questions raised by lawmakers Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando in Parliament.

 Meanwhile, an officer who had been with the intelligence apparatus told The Island that the CoI was fully briefed of pre – and post-developments of the April 21, 2019 attacks. Terming the accusations as politically motivated the ex-military man said that the CoI report would help the ongoing police investigations as well as studies undertaken by the Attorney General’s Department.

According to him, a full disclosure pertaining to certain aspects of intelligence operations would undermine Sri Lanka’s relationship with friendly countries. Therefore, both the government and the Opposition would have to address the issues at hand, cautiously.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

news

BASL calls for independent and impartial probe into killing of ’Uru Juwa’ & ’Kosgoda Tharaka’

Published

on

‘Such deaths are an affront to the Rule of Law’

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) condemned the killing of Melon Mabula alias ‘Uru Juwa’ and Tharaka Perera Wijesekera alias ‘Kosgoda Tharaka’, who were taken into police custody.

The State and the Police should have a duty to ensure the safety and security of persons in their custody, irrespective of the character of such persons and the seriousness of the nature of the allegations against such person, the BASL said in a statement.

“These deaths have all the hallmarks of extra-judicial killings and we call upon the State to ensure the safety and security persons in their custody, it said.

The statement further said: “On May 12, 2021, an Attorney-at-Law representing Tharaka Perera Wijesekera informed the BASL by e-mail that his client had been suddenly transferred from the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to a special police Unit at Peliyagoda and that he fears that his client will be killed in custody.

“Acting on the complaint of the Attorney-at-Law, between 2000 and 2100 hours, the President of the BASL informed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickremeratne via email to igp@police.lk and also by text message and WhatsApp the apprehensions of the said Attorney-at-Law and reminded the IGP that the Police and the State have a duty to protect persons in their custody.

“The IGP was reminded that the Supreme Court in many decisions has re-iterated the duty and responsibility cast on the State to ensure the safety and security of persons in its custody.

“The Attorney-at-Law concerned had also informed the IGP, the Director CID and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka of his concerns.

“Despite the said notifications by the BASL on behalf of an Attorney-at-Law representing his client, the news media reported that Tharaka Wijesekera has been killed while being detained by the Peliyagoda Special Crimes Division, allegedly “when he tried to attack police while recovering some weapons”. This happened at a time when the Police including the IGP had been notified of the same.

“On May 11, 2021 another suspect named Melon Mabula alias ‘Uru Juwa’ had met his death in a similar manner. We are informed that representations were made to the police as regards his safety, prior to his death.

“The State and the Police have a duty to ensure the safety and security of persons in their custody, irrespective of the character of such persons and the seriousness of the nature of the allegations against such persons.

“Such deaths are an affront to the Rule of Law and will tarnish the image of Sri Lanka. It is an imperative requirement of criminal justice that persons accused of serious crimes including murder are tried by a Court of law and punished for their crimes and that the networks that aided and abetted such activities are prosecuted and dismantled. This requirement is defeated by the failure of police officers to control the unarmed suspect purportedly accompanied by them without the use of lethal force.

“It is incomprehensible how on several occasions the Police have been unable to protect unarmed suspects in their custody.

“The Executive Committee of the BASL expresses its grave and serious concern and condemns the failure of the Police including the IGP to protect persons in their custody.

“The BASL calls upon His Excellency the President and the Government to take serious note of these incidents and to take action to prevent such occurrences.

“The BASL also requests the authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these incidents. As far back as 2013 the BASL highlighted the issue of the killing of suspects in the custody of Police and will use all means at its disposal to prevent similar acts of omission and commission on the part of the State authorities in the future.

Continue Reading

news

Korean Ambassador meets with WFP Representative and Country Director

Published

on

Korean Ambassador Santhush Woonjin JEONG met with Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, the newly-appointed United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Sri Lanka Country Director and Representative, at the Korean Embassy last week.

They had a productive discussion about the progress of the ongoing projects on the resilience building and strengthening sustainable livelihoods of communities in Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador said he is pleased about the recent project initiated in March 2021, by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to support the Government of Sri Lanka with funding worth USD 600,000 (LKR 117 million) to procure maize for the production of Thriposha amid COVID-19.

The Ambassador extended his warm congratulations to Siddiqui for his latest appointment and took the opportunity to renew the partnership between the Republic of Korea and the World Food Program (WFP) in Sri Lanka.

Santush Woonjin JEONG also expressed his confidence that Siddiqui will lead the World Food Program in Sri Lanka to greater heights with his previous experience of over 30 years in the field of nutrition and food security. The government of the Republic of Korea would like to restate its commitment to the global efforts to achieve WFP priorities at all levels. The Republic of Korea and WFP will work together to promote better outcomes in Sri Lanka and globally in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Siddiqui commended the staunch efforts by the government of Korea for the agricultural and economic development in Sri Lanka especially with reference to the continued investment of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in building resilience and ensuring food security in Sri Lanka under the ongoing projects.

The Country Director appreciated the Korean government for its projects in Sri Lanka; funding worth $ 600,000 (Rs. 117 million) to procure maize for the production of “Thriposha” and for continuing the existing partnership to build resilience against recurrent natural shocks by rehabilitation of irrigation schemes in Moneragala, Matale, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa districts.

Ambassador Santhush said the Republic of Korea is committed to jointly work with international organisations to achieve the sustainable development goals. The Korean government is working closely with the government of Sri Lanka to achieve our common goals in line with the national objectives through Korean government institutes such as Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA), Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank) and Saemaul Globalization Foundation in Sri Lanka.

Siddiqui further assured that the World Food Program (WFP) is geared to achieve the targets set for 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the country director appreciated the concessional loan of USD 500 million provided by the Korean government under the Framework Arrangement of Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) which is timely as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all countries including Sri Lanka.

The World Food Program will stand in solidarity with the “Stay Strong Campaign”, the anti-COVID19 initiative launched by the Korean Embassy in Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador further expressed his admiration towards the invaluable role The United Nations World Food Program plays in providing global food security and building resilience among vulnerable communities which contributed to the great achievement of becoming the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

The Ambassador also invited the Country Director to join the “#Live Together Campaign” which was launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea with UNESCO, to raise awareness of and to end discrimination experienced globally during the pandemic.

Continue Reading

news

18 jumbos felled in Assam’s Nagaon district probably due to lightning

Published

on

By Utpal Parashar

Eighteen wild elephants have been killed, most probably due to lightning, in Assam’s Nagaon district, officials informed on Thursday.

“The incident took place at Bamuni area of Barhampur on Wednesday. Our officials got to know about it on Thursday. Teams of forest and veterinary officials are at the spot to take stock of the tragedy,” Nagaon, deputy commissioner Kavitha Padmanabham said.

The deaths took place in an area with small hillocks and forests. Officials suspect the elephants, which were part of a herd, were staying close to each other when lightning struck. While four bodies were found at the bottom of a hillock, 14 others were found at the top.

“Preliminary investigation of the spot suggests lightning could be the reason for the deaths. All the elephants killed were adults and sub-adults,” Vasanthan, divisional forest officer (Nagaon), said.

“We are trying to recover all the bodies and conduct post-mortems. The exact cause of the deaths would be known only after the results are out, most likely by Friday,” he added.

Wildlife experts confirmed that the incident was the single largest instance of deaths of wild elephants in one go. They also suspected that there could be other reasons as well for the deaths.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has expressed shock and anguish at the deaths of the elephants and directed forest and environment minister Parimal Suklabaidya to visit the spot immediately.

“A tragedy of such scale is unheard of in Assam. It is a big loss. While lightning has been suspected to be the cause, mass poisoning of the pachyderms shouldn’t be ruled out,” said Bibhab Talukdar, noted elephant expert and CEO of Aaranyak, a Guwahati-based wildlife NGO.

“Assam has witnessed poisonings of wild elephants in the past, though not on such a large scale. I hope a thorough probe is done to know the exact cause behind the deaths,” he added.

According to a 2017 census, Assam (5719) has the second highest number of elephants in India after Karnataka (6049). Every year, several elephants are killed in man-animal conflict due to electrocution, poisonings etc. In 2019, the number of such deaths was nearly 80.

(Hindustan Times)

Continue Reading

Trending